Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A different kind of dog.

The Hothouse compound is guarded by our two Italian greyhounds.
People stop transfixed by the runtyness of the tiny one. The sheer audacity of his presence is impressive; the way he draws himself up to the size of say, a frozen chicken, and hurls forth abuse in his tiny rapid-fire barks.
These are house dogs, bred for human contact. Their mission is to snuggle with their owners as much as possible, preferably amongst velvet and pure wool.
Actually they are great walkers and racers too, but primarily weedy, snuggling warmth-leeches unlike the dogs of these collars.
These are macho earth-caked hairy dogs with huge yelpy voices and blood in mind. Dogs of 'la chasse' (hunting).
We have quite a few that turn up in the garden with jingly collar bells, somehow way off the scent, or perhaps in secret search of a soft sofa . . . 
When we first arrived in France, 'la chasse' seemed a strange, gruesome idea, but over the years I have come to view in a different way. It's so much of the way of life for many people here, as much as the 'potager' (veg patch) is for providing food and satisfaction in a certain expected order of the turning year.
Spring: preparing ground, sowing, gathering wild asparagus etc. Summer: lettuce, tomatoes, cherries, strawberries, apricots, watering. Autumn: harvest, mushroom-picking, cutting back, bonfires. Winter: 'la chasse'.
I have never participated (except for a couple of times of nearly being shot) but can imagine the fresh, crisp air, the thrill of the chase, dividing of the beast(s) amongst friends, wine consumed, all to be . . . enjoyable. I think.
Anyway, if we are prepared to eat meat, we should also perhaps be aware of the reality of the animal's demise. We are all too accustomed to the safe, cling-film packets of pink and red stuff on the supermarket shelves: de-skinned, de-boned, de-feathered, oven ready.


  1. d'accord, totally. after the killing of a chasse geezer by a boar a few years ago, they really go for a clean kill so the beast has a natural life and a speedy death. And tastes delicious. You can order it from Chez Charlie here - Im sure you can get it anywhere in bigtown Limoux -

  2. Yes, whilst I have never been tempted to hunt personally, all of us meat-eaters have to remember that we are happy to pay our butcher/giant supermarket conglomerate blood money to put our meat in a nice plastic packet without glubby bits.

    I think we should recall that this is part of a cycle of country life that has gone on for many centuries.

    Above all, I can't abide being told how to live by frequently ignorant townies.